December 04, 2005


Okay, so Nick Coleman has apparently realized his writing blows goats or something, and hasn't written any of his usual tripe in nearly a month. *sacrifices a chicken and prays for a continuance of this* Unfortunately, the Star-Tribune op-ed writers are just as thick in the cranium as Ol' Nick, so I'll dabble in a little unusual Sunday fisking, just so I can walk around the rest of the day and know I did SOMETHING.

On Wednesday at the Naval Academy, President Bush said, "Advancing the cause of freedom and democracy in the Middle East begins with ensuring the success of a free Iraq."

Nothing sets the tone more than yet another derisive sneer at the concepts of freedom and democracy. Catch words, nothing more.

Yet that same morning the credibility of America's dedication to ensuring a "free Iraq" was undercut by information in a Los Angeles Times article, later picked up by other newspapers: The U.S. military has been writing positive news stories, disguising their American origins and getting them placed in Iraqi newspapers.

In other news, media organizations around America also reproduce press releases, virtually verbatim, from practically every business in America. Also, the next Harry Potter book is almost guaranteed to result in a media blitz carefully orchestrated by the Harry Potter PR machine. The key bit the Strib ignores from the LA Times article?

Though the articles are basically factual, they present only one side of events and omit information that might reflect poorly on the U.S. or Iraqi governments,

OH NO, the horror! Articles that are basically factual, but biased! Kind of like, you know, every media outlet in the WORLD. Can't have any positive news reaching people. That would have the unacceptable result of providing hope and optimism. That would be bad. Back to the Strib:

Through the U.S.-created Baghdad Press Club, American officers also have been paying friendly Iraqi journalists hundreds of dollars a month. How much they get depends on the number of pro-American stories they produce.

Hmm, so the free market seems alive and well in Iraq, it seems. One wonders, if al-Queda operatives were found to be paying Iraqi media outlets to present their stories, whether the L.A. Times and the Strib would be so keen to criticize. I'm guessing it wouldn't even be a blip on their radar.

It's beyond us how anyone can square efforts to turn the fledgling "free press" in Iraq into an American propaganda mouthpiece with the effort to export American democracy and the values that undergird it.

Oh, it's beyond them, is it? So is logic, apparently. Hey, Strib? Consult any U.S. propaganda of the WW II era, and you'll see obvious examples of just this sort of information war going on all over the place. Yet it's beyond them. Historians, they ain't. It's becoming increasingly obvious that the Strib, and many left-leaning media outlets, are not only clueless about how wars are fought, they have absolutely no idea what a war actually is. Beyond bullets and bombs, they're basically retarded.

Of course, this administration has used variants of these techniques at home to great effect, and to journalism's great shame.

This coming from a journalistic medium that hires Nick Coleman, and then actually prints his stuff. Journalistic shame? You're soaking in it.

This is the same administration that was caught paying American "journalists" large sums to promote the president's marriage initiative and No Child Left Behind Act.

Yes, to "journalists" who basically preached to their already won-over choirs. The Bush administration is hardly unique in this respect, either.

Those behind these efforts seem to have missed class when the basics of American democracy were explained -- especially the part about the essential role of a free and untrammeled press.

Hey, they were free NOT TO accept the money, right? Where's the trammeling here?

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the most rambling paragraph in the history of op-eds:

The continuing story about the unmasking of CIA operative Valerie Plame has illuminated the great skill with which administration operatives have used the tantalizing narcotic of high-level access to coax feckless Washington journalists into suspending the critical faculties so essential to doing their jobs well.

Holy fucking shit. I love how, since the Strib has no apparent Washington correspondents of note, they still seem to know exactly what's going on with Washington journalists.

That helps explain why the national press did such a bad job of measuring prewar information about Saddam Hussein's weapons programs against reality.

You get that? It's the PRESS' job to measure prewar intelligence? Move over CIA, NSA, and every worldwide government intelligence agency. It's up to the PRESS to investigate such things. One can only shudder to imagine Nick Coleman and Maureen Dowd heading up the investigation of Iran's nuclear capabilities.

That failure in turn illuminates just how important an independent, aggressive, questioning press is to the effective functioning of a democracy -- here as well as in Iraq.

Nixon! Oh, for the days of Nixon! When we in the press actually amounted to something!

The U.S. State Department understands that. It is spending millions trying to develop professional, independent Iraqi media, only to now learn that the U.S. military is spending millions to achieve just the opposite.

Wait a minute. Just one minute here. Millions? Where did they get that figure? From the L.A. Times article we learn only that some journalists are paid hundreds of dollars a month to print pro-American, BASICALLY FACTUAL, articles. How does that transmogrify into millions of dollars? Is this the type of result we can expect once we turn over weapons intelligence gathering to Nick Coleman and Maureen Dowd?

That is simply bizarre. And it is another big kick in the teeth to American credibility around the world.

My mouf hurtsf afterff geffing kickedf in the teef.

And now, get ready for a segue-fest:

How on Earth can the United States seek to promote freedom, democracy and the rule of law when it is repeatedly shown to violate those very values -- by the way it treats those it has detained in the war on terror, by its misleading use of questionable intelligence in promoting an unnecessary war, by its highhanded refusal to play any longer by rules of international conduct it was instrumental in creating and by its deliberate efforts to undermine press independence?

So you see, ladies and gentlemen, paying to have BASICALLY FACTUAL information reproduced in Iraqi media outlets is tantamount to torture. And now the Strib will trot out the tired memes of "misleading" and "questionable intelligence" that have been debunked so many times, it's like a kick to the teeth to see them in print yet again. Oh, and just a niggling note here, but the word "earth" IS NOT CAPITALIZED!

With notable exceptions -- particularly the Knight Ridder Washington bureau -- the American press has ignored too many wake-up calls, including the Judith Miller fiasco, the Swift Boat vets, Jeff Gannon, the Plame affair and the entire Iraq disaster.

So many lefty talking points, it's almost as if the Strib is getting paid to. . . never mind.

The revelations of military propaganda operations in Iraq should be the last straw. If this cynical effort to undermine journalism doesn't finally cause the mainstream media to get back to doing their job the way it should be done, what will?

Yeah, this horrible, HORRIBLE revelation that the U.S. military conducts propaganda operations should really jump start the mainstream media. Why, such a thing has never happened before. Good God.

Posted by Ryan at December 4, 2005 12:58 PM | TrackBack

Good fisking, except I have to take issue with your E/earth correction. In A.P. style, both are acceptable, and not only when Earth is used in a list. Generally it's only when Earth is used as a proper name, though.

Of course that doesn't bother me. What bothers me is that the Strib didn't come down on CBS and Mary Mapes for her "fake but accurate" evidence in the Bush/National Guard story (at least that I remember). How is that propaganda any different?

Posted by: Clapper at December 5, 2005 08:54 AM

Yeah, I don't remember even a passing mention of the whole CBS crap in the Strib, either. Not that I'm surprised or anything.

Posted by: Ryan at December 5, 2005 09:54 AM

You know, I'm not sure I agree about that whole "earth is not capitalized" thing. I mean, I believe you that that's the rule, but I'm not sure I agree with the rule. Lower case earth is dirt. So you can be born on earth. But if you're born on the earth, then you're born on-- to my reading --planet Earth.

But that's just me.

Posted by: Joshua at December 6, 2005 07:36 PM

My understanding of the whole earth/Earth thing is that earth isn't capitalized because it's the only planet not named after a Roman god.

Posted by: Ryan at December 7, 2005 12:57 PM

Wait, are you serious?

Posted by: Joshua at December 7, 2005 07:39 PM

Yeah, since earth isn't named after a god/person, it's not considered a proper noun and is hence not capitalized.

Then again, it's still a location, like Seattle, I suppose, so I may be completely wrong.

Posted by: Ryan at December 8, 2005 10:03 AM

Of course, you could be in sarcastic mode, in which case, fuck you, yet again. Cock.

Posted by: Ryan at December 8, 2005 11:59 PM

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